FAIRBORN – The City of Fairborn is currently in the process of performing a major upgrade to its automated water meter information system that measures local customers’ water usage.
Approximately 13,500 meter interface units (MIUs) for commercial and residential water meter accounts will be replaced over the next eight-to-nine months, according to City Utilities Superintendent Marcus Lehotay. The utilities superintendent told Deputy Mayor Paul Keller, City Manager Rob Anderson and city council members during the May 8 city council work session that the mandatory replacement is necessary as the existing MIUs near the end of their 20-year service life.
“This will be a three-front battle,” Lehotay said. “The city has contracted Neptune Equipment Company Ohio (NECO) and Itron Inc. to replace the units.”
The existing MIUs are set up to transmit the meter reading to a specially equipped vehicle that drives by the business or residence, which in turn downloads the data to the city’s billing office. The new MIUs will have the technology to send out a signal via radio transmission that will be collected at the billing office, eliminating the need for a monthly drive-by meter reading.
Lehotay explained that the majority of the existing MIUs are mounted near the water meter on an interior wall inside the majority of homes, apartments, and businesses throughout the city. In order to upgrade to the new system, the installation contractors must mount the new MIU to a wall outside all commercial and residential structures and run a wire from each water meter to the new MIU. This will require access to homes and businesses, Lehotay said.
“There will be no cost for this service, and the installation process should take approximately 30 minutes to an hour,” Lehotay noted.
Lehotay also told city officials that the replacement project has been divided into six zones, comprised of 2,000-to-2,500 customers per zone.
“It will take about a month or a little longer to complete the upgrades in each zone,” said Lehotay. “There will be approximately eight-to-12 employees working on the project, and these employees will be driving marked company vehicles and carrying proper identification.”
Residents, landlords and business owners will be notified by the contractors to schedule an appointment to change out the MIUs. The notice will include instructions on how to set up an appointment, as well as essential contact information. All landlords will be responsible for notifying their tenants about the date and time of the installation appointment and the brief interruption in water service that may occur. An adult, 18 years or older, must also be present at the time of installation.
Lehotay stated that the city had consulted with Dayton Power & Light (DP&L), which claimed it had a 60 percent response to first notices that were sent out in the past to DP&L customers regarding scheduling needed service.
According to Lehotay, those customers in the city, who do not reply to the first notice and schedule an appointment with the installation contractors, will receive a second notice along with a door hanger explaining the obligatory protocol.
“Following the second notice, failure to schedule an appointment to replace the MIU will result in shutoff of services in two weeks,” Lehotay said.
He also explained that a third notice would be sent out to those customers who did not schedule an appointment after receiving a second notice; and if necessary, a fourth notice would be sent out via certified mail. Again, he stressed that participation in this program is mandatory and necessary for the fair and accurate billing of utility services.
Any questions not related to scheduling but regarding the replacement program can be answered by calling The Fairborn Utilities Department at 937-754-3097.
“Water meters are not being replaced. We are replacing just the meter interface units,” Lehotay said.
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.